Restorative Yoga also known as Yin Yoga is a set of slow-paced low-intensity yoga postures like setubandhasana (bridge pose), shashankasana (hare pose), shishosana (puppy pose), or any of the easy supine postures which are held with props like a blanket, bolster, blocks, etc for a longer period. These longer holds help to unwind the deeper layers of fascia unlike stressing the muscles in more dynamic movements thereby releasing the tension held in the body and mind. This could be morning yoga or bedtime Yoga or just relaxing yoga to make you feel good on rest and recovery days.
Importance of Restorative Yoga
All of us are always in fight and flight mode throughout the day in different ways. It could be either through physical exercises or through the mental and emotional stress of work, family etc. So, it is very important to unwind and relax our mind and body once a week. Even for Athletes, it is a great way to recover happily fatigued muscles with a deep stretch which helps them perform better and stronger. The real benefit of any workout routine is realized only during the recovery phase as it gives our body the time and space to adapt to the stress of a workout.
Following are some of the restorative yoga postures which can be practiced in a sequence one after another
- Shashankasan and its variation (The Hare posture)
This is a very easy posture and can be performed by any level of practitioner. It is usually performed as either a counterpose or a resting pose in dynamic practices. It stretches your spine, thighs, hips and ankles and relaxes your mind thereby reducing anxiety and fatigue. Below are the quick steps to perform this pose with some variations in a restorative way for longer holds
- Sit in Vajrasana with knees apart
- Place a bolster or a pillow in between the knees
- Inhale straighten your back and raise your arms up keeping them straight
- Exhale fold forward to rest your torso over thighs and bolster/ pillow and make sure your head is also rested over bolster/pillow so the spine is straight and arms can rest in front of knees on the floor
- Be here for 3-4 mins.
- Turn your Torso towards the right along with the bolster/pillow and rest your left palm over the right. This will give a good left side upper body lateral stretch. Stay here for 3-4 mins and repeat it on the left side.
- Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)
This is a great restorative pose that helps to heal the hips and the entire back. It also provides a deep stretch to the arms and shoulders. Below are the steps to perform this posture
- Come to tabletop posture with knees hip width apart
- Now slowly walk your hands out in front of you lowering the chest down towards the ground.
- Either your forehead rest on the floor or a block as per your comfort. You can place a folded blanket under your knees so they don’t hurt.
- Stay here for 3-4 mins
- Staying in the same posture, place blocks under your elbows raise your forearms over your head and with fingers pointing towards the ceiling, join the palms.
- Try to sink deeply through the chest, retract the shoulders and stay here for 3-4 mins
- Vishram Ardha Bhekasana (Supported Half frog pose)
This posture provides complete relaxation to the hips, lower back and encourages breathing through our back. This also works as a pain relief for menstrual cramps.
- Lie on your belly with both legs pointed back
- You can place a bolster or a pillow under your belly and head
- Slide the right leg up towards the right in such a way that knees and hips are in the same line and knees are bent at 90 degrees
- You can place both the hands in the goddess position and forehead rested either on the floor or bolster in a comfortable position
- Stay in this posture for 3-4 mins and then change side
- Supported Bridge Pose (Extended Puppy Pose)
This posture plays an important role in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, as the head and neck are lower than the heart. It also helps in opening the heart and same time works on the back, hip and hamstring muscles.
- Lie on your back in a supine posture
- Bend your legs and place the sole of the feet flat on the floor
- Extend your arms with your fingers reaching towards the heels. Make sure you can barely touch the back of the heels with your fingertips
- Slide a yoga block/ bolster/pillow under the sacrum to ensure it rests safely.
- You can place the hands by the side or on your chest or belly at your convenience
- Stay in this position for 3-4 mins
- Supta Matstyendrasana (Supinal twist pose)
This posture provides a great stretch to the glutes, chest and obliques. Due to the deep stretch in the chest, it is also called a heart opener. It helps to improve the spine mobility and the deep twist aids in the digestion process
- Lie on your back in a supine posture
- Fold your right leg and bring it to the chest
- Place the left palm on your right knee and twist it to the left
- Make sure your right shoulder blade is not lifting and gaze over the right shoulder
- Stay here for 3-4 mins and then change sides
All of the above postures can become a restorative yoga flow practice for 40-45 mins if performed in a sequence. So, get on your mat and enjoy this relaxing flow to calm your mind and body.
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